When the cattle industry began in the United States in the nineteenth century, there were only a few large and specialized feedlots that raised cattle for specific markets. The majority of cattle were raised on ranches in the west.
These cattle were sent to slaughterhouses in the east and Midwest to satisfy the demand for beef from hungry Americans. The United States had an abundance of land and wide open spaces, and there was rapid railroad construction to transport cattle from western ranches to the markets of the east.
The cattle industry in the nineteenth century was based on the transportation of longhorn beef from western ranches to the markets of cities along the Eastern Seaboard. While it was a profitable business, cattlemen found that they were constantly running into problems.
One of these problems was the lack of a reliable trail that would send the cattle north to markets that were more lucrative. This problem was solved when a young Illinois livestock dealer, Joseph McCoy, developed a new plan to get cattle to the northern markets by building market facilities in Abilene.
McCoy began advertising his facilities in 1867 by sending out handbills and by word of mouth. Within a few months he had built the Great Western Stockyards and the Drovers Cottage Hotel, and was ready to receive Texas cattle.
The cattle industry in the nineteenth century was a boon for the economy, but it also caused a lot of suffering to animals. The cows were kept in unsanitary conditions in feces-filled holding pens, and they were forced to breathe toxic air from manure. The cows were unable to exercise and often suffered from chronic respiratory illnesses.